INDIA IN COMMUNAL GRIP , Political Essays, By Dr Ram Puniyani, Edition 2018, pages 210, Isbn:978-93-88697-36-1; published by Seethai Pathipagam, Chennai 600005.
The latest book of Dr Ram Puniyani is a study and reflection of what is happening to Indian politics today. Though this is a review of the book I also touch upon some relevant points in line with the thinking of the esteemed author.
Narendra Modi came into power in May 2014. His advent was preceded by a number of attractive promises to different kinds of people to get their support. Some of these are: achhe din, Ram Temple, reduction of prices of essential commodities, control over corruption, and similar things. Somehow or other he won the election. It is also due to the fact that the two previous governments were of the Congress and normally people looked for a change. But after the election most of the promises were forgotten. The author gives a detailed analysis and explanation about the various negative factors that the nation faced for five years.
After the election, Modi proclaimed that he was born in a Hindu family and that he was a Hindu Nationalist. This is the core of his life and thinking. From this flowed his peculiar political thinking, ideology, vision, ambition, option etc.
Modi is a trained propagator of RSS, and a committed worker, who in a way gave up everything for his ideology of following Hindu Nationalism. Though married, reportedly he did not continue with family life and kept away from such bonds.
Contemporary to Modi and his ideology and ambition, L.K.Advani came up as a very staunch and bigoted leader to shake the whole length and breadth of India by his so called national pilgrimage “Rath Yatra”. He aroused the Hindu religious sentiments under the pretext of devotion to Ram and building the temple in Ayodhya. From RSS and Advani’s point of view, they were successful in reaching Ayodhya, demolishing the Babri Masjid, and planting the Ram Mandir flag on the blood soaked ruins of the Mosque. But from the Indian National point of view what were done in the Rath Yathra and in Ayodhya was the most crucial act to destroy the secular fabric of the nation and create hatred towards the minorities especially the Muslims. Side by side anti-Christian sentiments were injected among the ST and SC. Also it is to be remembered that the well planned demolition of Babri Mosque, built in the 16th century, was done by the karsevaks (volunteers) of the VHP and allied organisations on 06 December 1992. That moment, the secular fabric of the nation was torn apart and scattered in pieces and hatred and bitterness to one minority group of people of our country was proclaimed in action.
Over 2000 people lost their lives on the occasion. Also it cannot be forgotten that the Indian nation then had a Congress government with Narasimha Rao as its prime minister. In this context it is worth to call to mind that gradually violence began to sprout in different places all over India, and a feeling of fear, insecurity, powerlessness, were felt everywhere. This was a positive atmosphere for RSS to grow rapidly. Violence in big cities like Mumbai, Bhopal, and Surat were horrific for words. We do not want to enter into the history of violence in Gujarat. It is nothing but pure lie and injustice that those involved in crimes there, are all given clean chit! Probably Gujarat case may never appear in the court again!
RSS was for Hindu nationalism and not for Indian nationalism. Nor was RSS a constituent part of Indian Freedom movement. The average people of India in 1920s joined the freedom movement, but the elite upper caste came together to form the RSS.
The RSS differed with Gandhiji on the concept of national interest. Their sole motto was to build up Hindu interest. The freedom movement’s plan of getting all the people involved in the process was not acceptable for the RSS. It has no faith in democracy. These people, though few in number, being highly educated were very dominant, asserted themselves to be of the powerful Aryan culture and having ancient Hindu Scriptures. They formed so many groups called “shakhas” (branches) in different places. Right from the beginning an intellectual, ethnic (high caste), theoretical and practical vision was given to the young RSS members. They were formed in a rigorous lifestyle with special uniform, programme etc. It was rooted in Hindutva. They were not like others as the ancient Jewish Pharisees. To quote from an article of Joy Paul Puthussery, “The RSS is an organisation which has a definite political aim of establishing Hindu Rasthra in India, based on the same principles enunciated by the German National Socialist (NAZI) party under Adolf Hitler in Germany. On the Vijaya Dashami Day of 1925 Dr. K.B.Hedgewar along with four of his colleagues, Dr. B.S.Mooje, Dr. Dr. L.V Paranjpe, Dr.Tholkar and Babarao Savarkar, all of them high caste Hindus (savarnas), formed an organisation which later came to be known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, based on the principle, “Hinduism is Nationalism”. The RSS does not consider normal democratic processes fit for achieving its aims. These five people hit upon the idea that national unity would immediately come about, if it was not declared that non-Hindus, like Muslims and Christians, do not form a part of this nation because they do not consider Hindu tradition, ideals and culture as theirs too. These people did not consider Backward communities, Dalits, and Adivasis as Hindu and so the doors of RSS were closed against these communities.”
After the death of Hedgewar the new head of the RSS was Golwalkar, and under his guidance the RSS grew to 10000 units and one million members. By this time RSS branched out to political, social, religious, educational, labour and other fields and set up 50 front organisations. Though it was opened only for men gradually it also made another group for women called Rashtra Sevika Samithi. Then there is the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Bharatiya Jansangh, (the previous avatar of the present BJP), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (to hindutvise the tribals ), Bajrang Dal ,as its foot soldiers, Durga Vahini etc.
It is also extended to foreign countries where overseas Hindus are entitled to different organisations. Through all these, the RSS is keeping its grip on the people. It infiltrates into any area and aspects of society under one way or other. It finds or creates reason to enter and even to dominate and dictate.
Through its shakhas it spreads hatred towards minorities, opposes different points of the constitutions like secularism, equality of all etc. These points keep on coming in different channels and the people by and by get brainwashed. To quote again from Joy Paul Puthussery: “Those trained and nurtured in the Sangh culture develop implicit faith in the power of demagogy, that a lie well-packed can be marketed as truth. It will not be accidental if we remember Joseph Goebbels of German Nazi party here, who believed and said that the people would start to believe a lie repeated many times.” This is a common technology used in politics and diplomacy. Even in the previous election when serious complaints were raised regarding EVM, the officer in charge after a superficial study used to assert that there was nothing wrong with the machines. No further talks were entertained to examine the issue.
In his book ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ published in 1939 on page 27 Golwalkar says, “German race-pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races, the Jews. Race-pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” The lesson he wants us to learn is: “ From this stand point sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and the language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture i.e. they must, not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-long traditions, but also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead.
In one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights” (Page 52 of the book).
Modi learned the need of the people who stood with him en masse. What he needed was their votes, come what may. Thus he emerged as the choice of the corporates, the middle classes, the industrialists, and the rest he ignored. He stood with his base and the base too profited by him and from him. It is to be noted that the RSS and BJP have showed great signs of unity in spite of apparent tensions. (This aspect, the UPA and the Congress may struggle to bring in the work area.) Further, Modi’s aggressive style with the common people has its own plus point, for them the leader is the one who can shout loudly, who can spellbind the audience, and who can make tall promises and that in detail. Once the speech is over what remained in their mind is to cast their vote for Modi. The rest all is forgotten. The common people have no problem with the autocratic style of Modi.
Nehru and Modi have an ocean of differences. Nehru was a philosopher in politics; he was interested in the diversity of the nation. His philosophy was rooted in secularism, pluralism, inclusion and scientific temper. His understanding of the country was plural and multi lingual, multi religious. He was a political mystic who wanted the ‘discovery of India’. In prison he meditated on the same. He had no separate agenda of his own. He saw the people moving, developing, and in this observation he was like a poet. In this he was a dynamic leader.
In contrast, Modi is basically a RSS propagator. The agenda was given to him from the RSS head. Also he had come from the bitter experience of Godhra-Gujarat. His homework was violence and tension. He can only move ahead with threats. Modi is told to create a Hindu Rashtra. Hinduism is for him Nationalism. No wonder he has to keep the nation in communal grip.
(Published on 24th June 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 26)